Have You Been Charged with Tampering with Evidence in Georgia?
One of the foundations of our criminal justice system is the standard of “innocent until proven guilty. ” Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in order to determine their innocence or guilt. Tampering with evidence is a crime that disrupts the fair trial requirement. There are a variety of ways a person can interfere with evidence. The consequences are severe if convicted of this crime. It is critical that you hire an experienced Georgia Tampering with Evidence Attorney to ensure you receive the best representation possible.
Tampering with Evidence in Georgia
A person commits the crime of tampering with evidence when they knowingly destroy, alter, conceal, or disguise physical evidence. Tampering can also be accomplished by making, devising, preparing, or planting false evidence. The intent of the alteration can be to either prevent the apprehension of a person or to obstruct the prosecution or defense of the accused. O.C.G.A. §16-10-94
Georgia Case Law Regarding Tampering with Evidence
Tampering with evidence can occur in an myriad of ways. Some of the situations where people have been convicted include:
- A man was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of tampering with evidence when he wiped down the passenger side of the victim's vehicle to destroy evidence and also bleached his clothes to conceal any physical evidence concerning a murder he had committed. Brown v. State, 288 Ga. 404, (2010).
- Sufficient proof was found to convict a man for tampering with evidence when he threw documentation of a forged check out the window of a van as soon as the police stopped it. Foster v. State, 311 Ga. App. 129, (2011).
- A woman, Patti Thornton, conspired with a coworker to murder her husband and was also convicted of tampering with evidence. Thornton found a bullet casing on the floor after the murder and tried to hide it in the trash so her prints wouldn't be found. The Court found there was sufficient proof to establish she intended to suppress evidence and she was consequently convicted of tampering with evidence. Thornton v. State, 331 Ga. App. 191, (2015).
The Court has ruled that if a person commits tampering with evidence in their own case and not to prevent the apprehension or prosecution of anyone other than himself, then the tampering will be a misdemeanor. Durden v. State, 293 Ga. 89, (2013).
Penalty for a Conviction of Tampering with Evidence in Georgia
If convicted of tampering with evidence in Georgia, the punishment depends on what type of crime the accused was being prosecuted for.
Felony Tampering with Evidence
Felony tampering with evidence occurs when a person tampers with evidence during the prosecution of a felony that involves another person. If convicted, they will face a penalty of one to three years in prison.
Tampering with evidence during the prosecution of a serious violent felony involving someone else will also result in the defendant being charged with a felony. Further, the punishment will include a prison term of one and ten years.
Misdemeanor Tampering with Evidence
However, if the crime was a misdemeanor, then the offender will be charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges in Georgia carry penalties of up to one year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both.
If the offender tampers with evidence regarding his own case, then he will only be charged with a misdemeanor. For instance, in the case of White v. State, the defendant was charged with misdemeanor tampering with evidence instead of a felony. Defendant was charged with killing his girlfriend and tampering with evidence in his own case. Tampering with proof in one's own case is punishable only as a misdemeanor even though murder is a felony charge. 287 Ga. 713, (2010).
Due to the seriousness of the penalties associated with evidence tampering, you need a tampering with evidence lawyer in Georgia. Don't take a chance by hiring a general practitioner. Hire a Georgia Tampering with Evidence Attorney that has decades of criminal defense experience.
Defenses to Tampering with Evidence in Georgia
Lack of Intent: Evidence that the accused did not have the intent to destroy, alter, or conceal evidence in any way would negate an essential element. This defense can be complicated to develop so contact a tampering with evidence attorney in Georgia if this applies to your case.
Mistaken Identity: Even police officers make mistakes, and there is always a possibility that the wrong person is being charged with a crime. Any proof that you were wrongfully accused would be greatly beneficial.
What are not Defenses
The tampering was unsuccessful: Evidence that you had the intent to tamper will be enough to be convicted.
I didn't alter current evidence; I just added something else: Planting false evidence is another way a person can commit evidence tampering.
Evidence tampering is a severe crime in Georgia, and a charge is not to be taken lightly. While a charge is not the same as a conviction, you need a Georgia Tampering with Evidence Lawyer from the very beginning. Our attorneys at Lawson and Berry have over 50 years of criminal defense experience. We are here for you no matter when you need us - nights, weekends, and holidays. Contact us now for a free case evaluation for your evidence tampering in Georgia case.